£22m from recovery premium to ‘accelerate’ numeracy and literacy progress


The government is planning to set up a National Tutoring Programme-style subsidised scheme to “accelerate” pupils’ progress in numeracy and literacy, Schools Week can reveal.

Ministers are using £22 million of the £302 million recovery premium cash to “scale up” evidence-based interventions identified by the Education Endowment Foundation as having the strongest potential to boost attainment.

The Department for Education said the funding would subsidise education programmes that schools can purchase at a discount with their catch-up cash.

The establishment of another centralised scheme seems to jar with comments from recovery commissioner Sir Kevan Collins at the Association of School and College Leaders’ annual conference yesterday.

numeracy and literacy
Sir Kevan Collins

When asked whether recovery funding should all go directly to schools, rather than in separate pots with different eligibility criteria, Collins said: “I’m much more in the camp of we should say to schools, ‘Here is the bucket, work out what you need for your young people’.”

He added there was a “genuine debate” happening within government about how the cash should be used, adding the Treasury “like to see a more specific targeted piece of resourcing going in”.

NTP criticised for disadvantaged pupil reach

News of the new scheme comes after the flagship NTP was criticised for not reaching enough disadvantaged pupils.

A National Audit Office report revealed that, as of February, only one-third of children enrolled for tutoring under the programme had started courses.

Of the 125,200 pupils allocated a tutoring place, only 41,100 had started the course. Just 44 per cent were pupil premium eligible.

The NAO said it “raises questions over the extent to which the scheme will reach the most disadvantaged children”.

The NTP said the percentage starting courses had risen, but they refused to provide the figures. Explaining the backlog, an NTP spokesperson added some schools opted to schedule tutoring for later in the year following the recent lockdown.

The DfE said the accelerator programme would run alongside the NTP.

The scheme aims to make it easier for schools to access providers of “proven approaches” – outside of tutoring – in the next academic year. Further details will be published in due course.

An analysis of Ofsted monitoring inspections carried out this term found that reading was highlighted as a priority for most primaries, with schools noting pupils beginning to fall behind.

The EEF, which currently runs the tutoring arm of the NTP, said to date they have funded over 150 different evaluations of teaching and learning programmes and strategies. It is working with the DfE on how their evidence base can best support the fund.

Recovery premium worth £145 per mainstream pupil

Schools have also been told they will receive £145 per pupil premium eligible child under the recovery premium, announced last month. This increases to £290 for special schools, alternate provision, hospital schools and special units in mainstream schools.

The government has previously said the average primary school would receive about £6,000 extra and the average secondary school around £22,000 extra in the next academic year.

Speaking yesterday, Collins said education recovery should be measured on three things: whether children are “back on track” with the core knowledge they need, the attainment gap between poorer and better-off pupils, and “broader outcomes” for children including their “emotional and physical wellbeing”.

But he said it should be up to schools how they worked to meet those outcomes.

“I prefer trust, I prefer the idea we make the framework clear and use my big outcomes measures as the ones we are looking for and say to schools, ‘You know your young people and your community,’” Collins added.

He warned the changes he wants would “require significant investment”. But he will be focusing on “doing a few things well”, citing teaching, tutoring and more targeted work as his priority.

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